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      Understanding the IRATA L1 Syllabus: Backup Devices

      On your IRATA assessment day, you’ll demonstrate competence by correctly using and handling of your back-up device(s) in the following ways.

      1.  Understanding how to select the appropriate lanyard, according to the manufacturers specifications, and then use it correctly.
      2.  Safe handling – avoid touching your back-up device if you don’t need to. Practice appropriate caution whenever you’re moving a device between the rope system and your harness. You don’t want to drop it!
      3. During rescue, hauling, and lowering, make sure you’re always moving your backup device up to a position high above your head to minimize potential fall distances and the impact loads that would result. An awareness of clearance distances goes along with this.
      4. Avoid creating tangles in the rope system while you’re working.

      The most basic safety point to keep in mind for any rope manoeuvre is that you must always maintain a minimum of two independent safety attachments (that minimum increases to four for rope-to-rope transfers, re-belays, or any maneuver where there’s a risk of an out-of-control swing if equipment failure takes place). The second and fourth point of attachment are your back ups, and in the unlikely and rare event of a fall their successful deployment will protect you.

      You’ll be demonstrating the proper use of back-up devices throughout your entire assessment with every single manoeuvre you complete. Your assessor will be watching that you use your back-up devices in accordance with best practices, Pacific Ropes' risk assessment, and the manufacturer’s instructions. This includes making sure that your back-up device is always in the correct position (as high as possible, to minimize your fall factor) and making sure you don't accidentally take off your back up, leaving you to only 1 point of attachment. We recently published a blog post detailing some of the most common reasons techs fail their L1 assessment here, and one of those was going down to three points of attachment (taking one of the backups off) during a rope to rope transfer. Watch out for that one.

      We’ll go through all of this with you during your training week. We’ll also explain alternative back-up systems and when they may be appropriate.

      L2 and L3 Demonstrate Competence:

      As mentioned above, there is a slight difference regarding what ‘demonstrating competence’ means for you. In addition to the above, you’ll also need to demonstrate your familiarity with a whole range of back-up devices and alternative systems – such as descent on two descending devices and controlling a safety line.

      Please note that some countries have specific requirements for the selection of back-up devices.

      Additional resources to check out:

      For the source material used for this blog, please refer to 6.6.2 of TACS.

      Information on all basic rope maneuvers can be found in Part 3, Annex K of the ICOP.

      To continue with detailed explanation of the rest of the IRATA L1 syllabus, please click below!

      Succeed your IRATA L1